ZnY l iRv ux
Categories
blog meditation Proverbs

Meditation Proverbs 25b

9 If you take your neighbour to court, do not betray another’s confidence, 10 or the one who hears it may shame you and the charge against you will stand. 11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given. 12 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear. 13 Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master. 14 Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of gifts never given. 15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. 16 If you find honey, eat just enough– too much of it, and you will vomit. 17 Seldom set foot in your neighbour’s house– too much of you, and they will hate you. 18 Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is one who gives false testimony against a neighbour. 19 Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble. 20 Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. (Prov. 25:9-20 NIV)

9 If you take your neighbour to court,

do not betray another’s confidence,

10 or the one who hears it may shame you

and the charge against you will stand.

If you take your neighbour to court or if you are in an argument with someone, do not use privileged information to support your case.  Even if you lose the case or lose the argument, keeping a confidence is much more important.  You should not value your own pride above keeping a confidence. 

The shame that is brought upon you will be the shame of having broken a confidence.  Whereas you started out bringing a case against your neighbour now you will be charged with betraying a confidence and being an unreliable friend. 

11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver

is a ruling rightly given.

12 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold

is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear.

The first line of v11 is difficult to translate, but the NIV has captured the essence.  The image is of a very precious ornament or piece of jewellery, and this is used to compare it to the value of a ruling rightly given.  More generally it could be thought of as a word spoken in the right circumstances.  How useful our words can be if we use them wisely.  We can build up, teach, encourage or even rebuke and save a person from harm.

13 Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time

is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him;

he refreshes the spirit of his master.

14 Like clouds and wind without rain

is one who boasts of gifts never given.

The first line of this Proverb is difficult to translate, and the commentators spend an inordinate amount of time discussing what exactly the simile might be, instead of focusing on the meaning intended.  The simile is a highly desirable cold drink taken during the heat of a harvest day.  What precisely that drink is and how exactly it was cooled need not detain us for too long.  The main point is that as welcome as that thirst-quenching drink is, so is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him.  We all understand how good it is to be surrounded by trustworthy friends.  As well as thinking about our trustworthy friends we also need to focus on being a trustworthy friend to others.  It is good to have friends who leave us refreshed by their presence.  It is also good to be the kind of person who leaves others refreshed.  Is that what you do?

Not being a rural community, it might be difficult to get the significance of the simile.  In an agricultural community that would often experience drought, the common prayer would be for rain.  They would keep their eye on the horizon to look for clouds with the promise of rain.  Clouds and wind promise rain, but when it is just clouds and wind with no rain, the promise fails to deliver up what it appeared to offer.  This is like a person who brags about his work and gifts that he has offered to others in the past and offers to deliver now.  He turns out to be a complete disappointment because he never delivers.  This kind of person is unreliable and can never commit to a long-term project.

15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,

and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

This is self-controlled persistence.  The person who continues to serve well and waits patiently can often change the mind and heart of a ruler.  To stay calm, stay the course and remain within the circle of influence provides the opportunity by gentle persuasion to break the stiff resolve of a person who initially refuses.

16 If you find honey,

eat just enough– too much of it, and you will vomit.

17 Seldom set foot in your neighbour’s house—

too much of you, and they will hate you.

The Teacher calls for moderation.  Many people like honey, the advice here is that too much of a good thing can make you sick.  The same with visiting your neighbour.  Your neighbour will normally be glad to have you as a neighbour and to drop in on them occasionally, but too much of your presence will turn the neighbour against you.  Everybody needs their own space.  It is nice to have that space shared by a friend or neighbour but not all day, every day.  We need to work on developing our emotional intelligence so that we can become sensitive to how others around us are feeling. 

18 Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow

is one who gives false testimony against a neighbour.

19 Like a broken tooth or a lame foot

is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.

To tell lies about a neighbour is like attacking them with a weapon.  The lies are all the more deadly because they come from someone that you know and once trusted. 

We probably all have experienced the pain of a toothache or the pain of a sprained ankle.  That pain or annoyance is compared to the annoyance of having to depend upon someone who is unreliable in a time of trouble.  It is easy to think of the number of people we know who are unreliable and think how terrible it would be to have to depend on them.  This Proverb should make us think of ourselves to ensure that we prove a reliable friend so that in a time of trouble our friends will be glad that we are there to offer them support. 

20 Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day,

or like vinegar poured on a wound,

is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.

It is important to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.  It can be insensitive to try and cheer someone up when they have a heavy heart.  It is insensitive to make little of someone’s pain.  It might seem small to us, but it is their pain and trauma and to dismiss their pain can make them feel more alone.  It is as insensitive and hurtful as taking away a coat from someone on a cold day or pouring vinegar into an open wound.

Prayer

Lord God help me to be a reliable friend to others.  Help me to be more thoughtful about how others feel.  Teach me to be careful with my words, so that I am able to demonstrate that I want to understand what others are experiencing.  Give me wisdom to understand myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ, because I ask this in the Saviour’s name.  Amen.